Electronic signatures offer a convenient, cost-effective, and efficient way to complete important documents and agreements. But even as electronic signatures continue to become more commonplace, some organizations may still require you to use a wet signature when signing a document.

So what are wet signatures and how do they differ from e-signatures?

Here’s everything you need to know about what wet signatures are, their advantages and disadvantages, and how electronic signatures may be a better alternative.

What is a Wet Signature?

A wet ink signature is a signature affixed to a hard copy of a document with a physical pen or seal. Wet signatures are commonly used to endorse official documents and are typically legally binding.

While electronic signatures have become more and more common, some organizations may still require users to wet sign documents for verification’s sake. However, modern electronic signatures can still carry the same weight as wet signatures and can be used in nearly all of the same circumstances.

Why is it Called a Wet Signature?

Wet signatures get their name due to the fact that they are created using wet ink, be it with a pen, stamp, or seal.

The name ‘wet signature’ simply indicates that the signature was completed using physical tools as opposed to electronic signatures, which are completely digital.

How Do You Make a Wet Signature?

You can make a wet signature by using a pen, stamp, or seal to physically sign a hard copy of a document.

A wet signature doesn’t necessarily have to be a person’s full name. Instead, it can be a person’s partial name, initials, a symbol, or another identifying mark that can be tied to the person signing the document.

What are the Disadvantages of Wet Signatures?

Traditionally, people have used wet signatures to verify documents and create legally binding agreements. But when compared to electronic signatures, wet ink signatures have several shortcomings.

The disadvantages of wet signatures include:

  • Poor turnaround time: One of the biggest drawbacks of wet signatures is the time it takes to collect them. To collect a wet signature, you either have to mail a physical document to the signee or email a copy for them to print out and sign before mailing it back to you. In either case, the process can be delayed by delivery times, holiday schedules, business hours, etc. Electronic signatures can be completed much more quickly to facilitate more efficient business communications.
  • Record keeping: Physical documents signed with wet ink signatures need to be filed away and scanned for digital storage. Electronic signature platforms like jSign make it easy to save and organize your electronic documents in the cloud for better recordkeeping and easy access.
  • Higher costs: When dealing with physical documents and wet ink signatures, it’s important to consider the additional costs that come with them, including ink, paper, printer maintenance, delivery fees, and more. You also need to consider the time it takes to complete this process and how that can impact your revenue.
  • Environmental impact: Electronic signatures are more environmentally responsible than wet signatures as they don’t require the use of paper or ink.

Collecting wet signatures is also often more inconvenient for recipients as they are required to print the document, sign it, then re-scan it or mail it back to you. By switching to electronic signatures, you can save time and money when signing documents and collecting signatures from others.

What are Electronic Signatures?

Electronic signatures are a more modern alternative to wet signatures that can be used in almost all of the same circumstances. E-signatures are legally binding, safe to use, and are often considered to be more convenient as they save time, money, and resources.

Platforms like jSign let users create their own custom signatures that they can use to sign documents online without having to print or scan anything.

Benefits of Electronic Signatures

Compared to wet ink signatures, e-signatures offer several benefits to businesses and professionals.

Electronic signatures:

  • Are cost-effective
  • Offer faster turnaround times
  • Have less impact on the environment
  • Make it easier to keep organized records
  • Are more convenient
  • Are customizable

Electronic signatures offer these benefits while maintaining compliance with federal laws and regulations. In rare situations, you may be required to use a wet signature, but aside from these situations, e-signatures are a more efficient, cost-effective, and less time-consuming alternative.

Sign Documents Online with jSign

jSign is the leading electronic signature solution for professionals across all industries, ranging from finance and real estate to healthcare and insurance.

With jSign, you can effortlessly create a custom electronic signature that you can use to sign documents. You can also create document templates, send documents to others to collect signatures, and take advantage of integrations to backup your files on platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox.

jSign Features & Benefits

jSign users get access to a variety of unique features and benefits that make signing documents fast, easy, and efficient.

Blockchain Technology

jSign uses blockchain technology to track your documents and prevent unauthorized users from tampering with your sensitive files.

We track every change made to your document, complete with timestamps, to create a verifiable audit trail and ensure your document is enforceable.

Third-Party Integrations

jSign integrates with popular third-party apps like Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox to give our users a way to safely store their sensitive files and documents.

By taking advantage of these integrations, you can easily import, export, and organize documents for future reference.

4 Ways to Sign

jSign offers users four convenient ways to sign documents online.

When setting up your account, you can choose to enter a custom electronic signature, choose from a selection of predefined e-signatures, upload a photo of your signature, or use a signing pad to mimic your handwriting. 

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication lets users safeguard their accounts against unauthorized users.

You can set up two-factor authentication using your email or phone number to receive a verification code anytime someone tries to log into your account.

Custom Document Templates

Businesses and professionals need to streamline their document workflows to save time and money.

With jSign’s customizable document templates, you can create templates for documents that you use frequently, making it easier to quickly eSign documents and collect signatures from others.

Sign Up Now

jSign is available as a limited free trial featuring all of its capabilities, and paid plans start at just $9.99 a month.

Join today to start signing documents online!


Why is it called a wet signature?

The traditional type of pen-on-paper signature is called a wet signature because you’re using ink to sign the paper with your hand. When you execute a document with a hand-drawn signature the ink dries on the paper to create an indelible mark that represents you. A wet signature is the traditional way to sign documents but has rapidly been superseded by digital and electronic signatures. 

How can you tell if a signature is wet?

There are a few ways to tell if a signature is wet. If you have a signature that is on the original contract copy and signed in blue pen, it will usually look fairly obvious. Suppose you see a color signature on a printed document. In that case, you can see if the signature is the original wet signature by looking closely to see if the paper underneath is indented. Hand-drawn signatures are usually pushed down on paper more than printed signatures. 

Can I sign a wet signature electronically?

You cannot sign a wet signature online. A wet signature refers only to a hand-drawn signature in ink. However, you can sign a document electronically in a way that closely resembles your wet signature. You can create unique signatures by drawing your signature using a touchpad or mouse, typing it into a signature creator tool like jSign or uploading an image of your original signature. Many organizations will accept digital signatures as they are just as legally binding as wet signatures in the USA. 

How do I create a wet signature in a PDF?

You can’t create a wet signature in a PDF without printing the document. However, this isn’t necessary. You can sign your PDF electronically using the built-in signature tool in Adobe or by using a dedicated electronic signature service like jSign. Electronic signatures are legally binding in the USA under the United States Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act, as well as the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA). 

Can you email a wet signature?

You can email your wet signature if you scan your document and upload it to your email client. In the rare case an organization insists on a wet signature they will likely require you to mail them the original document with your wet signature on it. This is rare, however, as most organizations accept legally binding eSignatures for their documents.

Kamran Shafii
Manager, SEO Content

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